I’m not a native English speaker, and in my early days in the UK I’ve been, countless of times, in discussions where even if I could understand the words being thrown at me, I had no idea what people were talking about.
This is because I was lacking context.
Imagine somebody arriving this week in the UK, and all they hear are people excited about cakes, baking, Nadya, Hollywood and Berry in the same sentences. Without having heard of the “Great British Bake Off” it would be hard to make sense of the whole discussion (and for the non-British readers, or the ones who lived in a cave for the past 6 years, this is what I’m talking out)
Back to our keyboards, for us developers, it’s the same thing. When a client requests the build of a new application or a feature change on their existing one, we need context, whether it’s business or customer related. You should not wait for this context to be given to you but actively seek for it.
Our responsibility, as developers, is to identify or proactively seek for the context and make sure that the chosen solution is moving the needle in the right direction.
So next time you are in a meeting, with a client or project owner, and there are feature requests flying around, and no context is given, try this:
- Do not judge the requests. If you don’t have a context, they are neither stupid nor great.
- Make a note of them.
- One by one, go back to them and discuss the real context / business case for them.
This way, you will be able to do the real job we’re supposed to do, not just coding, but providing meaningful solutions.
And providing meaningful solutions means that you will move from the service provider camp to the client partnership camp.